Central Florida businesses help to create Disney attractions

Disney’s newest attraction, Tiana's Bayou Adventure, will open in just a few days, and a local company has played a significant role in bringing its main elements to life.

Visitors at Disney's parks may not realize that many of the detailed props, structures, and sculptures in attractions like Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, Toy Story Land, and now Tiana's Bayou Adventure are crafted by small local businesses. 

One such company is Icarus, which creates custom droids, towers, and other intricate pieces. Drayton Knox, co-owner of Icarus, recalls his childhood fascination with Disney's park scenery. 

"I'd try to figure out how a big wooden column that looks like wood was made, and I'd tap on it and realize it was hollow. That definitely intrigued me," Knox said.

An example of Icarus’ work is a spaceship in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge built to Disney Imagineers' specifications. 

"This is mostly all aluminum. The framing is all welded, and we developed the skins. There are a lot of different elements, like press brakes," Knox explained. 

The process, from concept and development to permitting and fabrication, takes months.

Durability is critical to Icarus’s creations. Most objects are made of fiberglass and aluminum to withstand the constant interaction of thousands of park visitors. Even the seat on the speeder they created is made from fiberglass.


Icarus also crafted the towering Buzz Lightyear figure and the rocket-shaped "package" he came in Toy Story Land. Jennifer Smith, Icarus General Manager and former Disney Imagineer, emphasized the complexity of their work. 

"The process involves starting with a sculpt of the final product, molding it, cleaning it up, turning it into the fiberglass piece, and then painting it to bring it to life. There are many steps, parts, and pieces, not even including the internal structure," Smith said.

Disney Ambassador Serena Arvizu highlighted that Disney contracts with over 8,500 small businesses nationwide, with 2,500 in Florida alone.

"I love that I work at a company that cares so much about the community we operate in, and I think you see that reflected so well in Tiana's Bayou Adventure," Arvizu said. "We're proud to support local businesses in bringing this dream to life."

Disney staff encourages local companies interested in collaborating with them to reach out. They are always seeking new business partnerships to support various aspects of their operations, not just the creative side.